Fairly recently I used a beautiful painting of Fernando Vicente in order to illustrate (quite literally I have to say) my article about Deleuze’s concept of the body as a Desiring Machine. It turns out that this Spanish artist has a whole series of those painting that he calls Anatomias that represent sections within women’s bodies as seen as machines both erotic and frightening at the same time. It is very likely that there would be a feminist reading of this work, as much as the one of Zola further in this article; however, I won’t be the one doing it here.
It is actually interesting to notice that, when one would think of a machine as a de-sexualized entity, F. Vicente’s bodies are highly sexualized and thus literally embody successfully this concept of desiring machine, or the human body seen as a productive entity.
In his novel La Bete Humaine (1890), French XIXth century author Emile Zola accomplishes the opposite of F.Vicente’s bodies by describing all along his book a locomotive as a woman. Never this comparison would be as strong as when this same locomotive -that even has a female name “La Lison” is involved in an accident and “dies” from it as described in the following paragraph (that I did not find in English and I had to translate myself which is terrible when one knows how beautiful is Zola’s prose…sorry about that):
The following video is a short interview of Jean-Luc Godard in 1972 after he released his movie Tout Va Bien. He explains his activist engagement as a movie director and author by comparing his approach to Marin Karmitz‘s. In fact, when the latter creates a movie at the same period directly with textile factory workers, Godard considers that this approach is delicate as the mean of communication used here (cinema) has been in the hands of the ones that those movies are fighting against.
Godard also blames the regime of private property that forbids him to film inside factories, the subway, in a museum (although he did in Band of Outsiders), in an airport etc.
Other posts about Godard:
- Cinematic Catalysts: Contempt + Casa Malaparte by Danielle Willems
- The Paradigm of Modern Cinema: The Cinematographic Introspection (Godard, Fellini, Truffaut, Assayas & Hansen-Love)
- Godardian landscapes
- Band of outsiders
Modern Contemporary is a very beautiful monograph of Belgium artist Arne Quinze‘s work. This work, despite or thanks to its obvious influences like Kawamata, Basquiat, Matta Clark, Katsushika Hokusai (whose drawing is tattooed on A.Quinze’s back) etc. manages to find a real strength which probably find its source in the overwhelming energy spent by the artist. This book, published by German publisher Hatje Cantz, is an excellent collection of the translation of this energy on the various mediums that are objects, dioramas, paintings, installations, architectures etc.
Arne Quinze manages to always flirt with the dangerous “coolness” without seeming to fall for it and the aggressiveness of his work is intelligently balanced with the apparent fragility of his creations.
Previous articles about Arne Quinze:
- The Sequence
- My Home my House my Stilthouse & my Safe Garden
- Contemplating the void / 50th anniversary of the NY Guggenheim
Today starts a new episode of The Funambulist. From now on, if everything goes well, you should be able to read every week a 1500 words essay by a guest writer I have been asking to write exclusively for the blog.
The first author to achieve this assignment is Danielle Willems, who is a designer and producer currently living, working and teaching Architecture in New York. Her practice and academic works continuously test the thresholds between the moving image and architecture.
Her essay explores via the specific examples of the Casa Malaparte and Jean-Luc Godard‘s movie Le mépris (Contempt), the perception of architecture through the cinematographic lens: (more documents in the video at the end of the text)
Cinematic Catalysts: Contempt+Casa Malaparte
by Danielle Willems
There is no question that at this point in time the method in which we view the world is through the cinematic lens. The way we move and perceive space, time and the landscape is most certainly through this lens. How can this method be harnessed to become a methodology that is generative rather than just representational? Can this method be developed through a narrative feeding back onto the form expanding and creating space and time around the sequence of events? This case study of Casa Malaparte has its own interesting story as well as the many events and narratives that weave themselves through and around this space. The film Le Mepris (Contempt) produced in 1963 is certainly one of Godard’s most seductive productions. The main event or catalyzing moment between the two characters in the film is solidified through the formal performance of the architecture of Casa Malaparte. This catalyzing moment will become the focus of this essay, and will attempt to investigate the series of memories surrounding and forming this exception house.
After politics, music, psychoanalysis and literature, I wanted to conclude this “Deleuze week” with a short article about his vision of painting (for cinema, see the article about his lecture about the act of creation) through the work of Francis Bacon. Gilles Deleuze, indeed, interpreted the work of the Irish painter in a book entitled The Logic of Sensation published in 1981.
In this book, he describes how the lifetime work of Francis Bacon has been to paint the scream itself rather than the figure that makes the body scream. The body is therefore the continuous medium of work of Bacon. His paintings registers in what Deleuze calls the becoming animal, and each body in them expresses the pain in their meat that they suffer about (see previous article about Bacon and the meat).
This book also insists on the common mistake which is to consider that the painter always start from a white page. On the contrary, Deleuze argues that he starts with a dark page and the painting consists in the withdrawal of everything that is not fundamental to it (see previous article about this same book). He uses the example of Cezanne in order to illustrate how little each great painter manages to achieve but how precious is the result of a lifetime to struggle to truly understand and represent an element of life:
This week could have been shared between Gilles Deleuze AND Felix Guattari as it is the third article in a row that I write about a book written by both of them. This one is about the book Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature published in 1986. In this essay, the two authors, thanks to Franz Kafka’s work attempt to create a manifesto for what they call a minor literature. Minor, here, is of course ambiguous as it can both means secondary or from the minority. One can definitely bet that this ambiguity was not disturbing them at all as they have always refused any form of transcendental judgment on a work and this way would have not mind to be considered to take care of a “secondary” discipline. However, the primary meaning of minor here is referring to their recurrent call for the expression of minor becoming as we have seen in the previous article entitled What is it to be “from the left”.
The three characteristics of minor literature are the deterritorialization of language, the connection of the individual to a political immediacy, and the collective assemblage of enunciation write Deleuze and Guattari in the same book. Kafka’s work develops those three conditions both in its contents as in its form, himself being part of minority within a minority (Jewish and Czech in a region part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). His writing, in German particularly registers in the following paragraph that concentrate the essence of the minor literature :
illustration by Fernando Vicente
In 1972, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari publish the Anti-Oedipus (first volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia before A Thousand Plateaus) which consisted in a frontal and very caustic criticism of psychoanalysis as it has been conceived by Freud and later by Lacan. Accusing psychoanalysts to have the same relationship to their patient that priest have on their flock, Deleuze and Guattari -who was himself a student of Lacan- blame them for making the castration as an equivalent of the religious sin and for interpreting the unconscious as a theater. On the contrary the two French men, far from the dreams and fantasies as representation of the desire, invent a vision of the unconscious as a factory and the body as an assemblage of machines producing desire.
Those desiring machines are directly inspired by Antonin Artaud and his notion of bodies without organs but more expressively by William Burroughs and his Naked Lunch:
The physical changes were slow at first, then jumped forward in black klunks, falling through his slack tissue, washing away the human lines…In his place of total darkness mouth and eyes are one organ that leaps forward to snap with transparent teeth…but no organ is constant as regards either function or position…sex organs sprout anywhere…rectums open, defecate and close…the entire organism changes color and consistency in split-second adjustments…
Burroughs William. The Naked Lunch. Grove Press
picture extracted from Vollmond by Pina Bausch
The Ritournelle is a concept created by Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari for A Thousand Plateaus published in 1987. It is the subject of the 11th plateau which is entitled 1837: Of the refrain. It has been translated in fact in English by refrain but, within the extent of my English knowledge, it seems to me that this translation does not fully unfold the same meaning. In the Abécédaire, Deleuze, as we will see below, use an onomatopoeia in order to explain this word: “Tra la la” as a kid would hum.
This concept is a territorial one as Deleuze states:
When do I do Tralala ? When do I hum? I hum in three various occasions. I hum when I go around my territory…and that I clean up my furniture with a radiophonic background…meaning when I am at home. I also hum when I am not at home and that I am trying to reach back my home…when the night is falling, anxiety time…I look for my way and I give myself some courage by singing tralala. I go toward home. And, I hum when I say “Farewell, I am leaving and in my heart I will bring…”. That’s popular music “Farewell, I am leaving and in my heart I will bring…”. That’s when I leave my place to go somewhere else.
In other words, the ritournelle (refrain), for me, is absolutely linked to the problem of territory, and of processes of entrance or exit of the territory, meaning to the problem of deterritorialization. I enter in my territory, I try, or I deterritorialize myself, meaning I leave my territory.
Abécédaire. Gilles Deleuze. produced and directed by Pierre-André Boutang
picture of Deleuze, Sartre and Foucault in front of a prison in the frame of the GIP (see previous article)
As I wrote in the last article, the Abécédaire has never been translated into English (at least, as far as I know). Here is my small and clumsy contribution to such a gigantic work that would be. This is the end of the “chapter” G comme Gauche (L for Left) during which Gilles Deleuze defines what he think being from the left means in two parts. The second part is an explanation with very simple word of the concept of Becoming that he created with Felix Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus:
G comme Gauche
Claire Parnet: What is it to be “from the left” for you?
Gilles Deleuze: Well, I will tell you that there can’t be any government from the left. It doesn’t mean that there is no differences between governments. The best we can hope for is a government that would be in favor of some of the left’s requirements but a government from the left, that does not exist. So how to define what is it to be “from the left”, I would say it in two ways.
It’s firstly a problem of perception. A problem of perception that is to say what is it not be “from the left”. We can see that with the postal address. Not be from the left means starting with myself, my street, my city, my country, the other countries further and further. We start by us, and as we are privileged, we live in a rich country, we wonder how we can do to sustain in time this situation. We can feel that there are some dangers, that this situation can’t last too long. So we say “Oh but the Chinese are so far away, how can we do so that Europe can sustain itself in time etc.”
To be from the left is the opposite. It is to perceive, as it is said that Japanese people perceive. They don’t perceive like us, they primarily perceive the perimeter. They would say: The world, the Continent Europe, France, etc. etc. the rue Bizerte, Me. It is a phenomenon of perception. This way we first perceive the horizon.
Abécédaire is a 7h30 long interview of Gilles Deleuze achieved in 1988 by Claire Parnet, his former student and close friend and produced & directed by Pierre-André Boutang. This is, in my opinion, the most wonderful entrance door one could dream to start exploring Deleuze’s philosophy as his language in this video is much more simplified than the one he uses in his books (at least in most of his books).
This document is entitled Abécédaire as both C.Parnet and G.Deleuze exchange on a series of topics and problems that are proposed as one for each letter of the alphabet as following:
A as Animal
B as Boisson (Drink)
C as Culture
D as Désir (Desire)
E as Enfance (Childhood)
F as Fidélité (Fidelity)
G as Gauche (Left)
H as Histoire de la philosophie (History of Philosophy)
I as Idée (Idea)
J as Joie (Joy)
K as Kant
L as Littérature (Literature)
M as Maladie (Disease)
N as Neurologie (Neurology)
O as Opéra
P as Professeur (Professor)
Q as Question
R as Résistance
S as Style
T as Tennis
U as Un (One)
V as Voyage (Travel)
W as Ludwig Wittgenstein
X et Y as Inconnues (unknown)
Z as Zig-zag
Having a few articles I needed soon to write about Gilles Deleuze, I decided to launch a “Deleuze week” (!) and I will therefore attempt to write an article per day this week about the fantastic philosopher. I am also adding a category “Deleuze” in the archives section that will help composing an archive.
In order to start I would like to redirect toward the numerous articles I already wrote (at least the ones that deals primarily about him):
- Control and Becoming: A conversation between Toni Negri and Gilles Deleuze
- Lewis Carroll by Gilles Deleuze
- Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari’s Holey Space
- Deleuze’s wave about Spinoza
- Francis Bacon The logic of sensation by Gilles Deleuze
- Lecture by Gilles Deleuze about the Act of Creation (May 1987)
- Gilles Deleuze and the Baker Transformation
- Michel Serres, Gilles Deleuze and Reza Negarestani on Fractal Ontology
- Gilles Deleuze on the web
and my essay about the Processes of smoothing and striation of space in urban warfare
I also invite the French speakers to listen to the very interesting series of radio broadcast organized last week on France Culture by Les Nouveaux Chemins de la Connaissance (especially the third and fifth ones respectively about Deleuze’s resistance against psychoanalysis and about his and Guattari’s concept of “ritournelle” (translated in English in a clumsy way by “refrain”).
Francois Roche is currently leading a collective resisting to the developing project to rebuild Paris’ Zoo in Vincennes. In fact, this zoo, famous for its numerous artificial mountains is the object of a quasi-total reconstruction in an ambiguous semi-private contract lead by the omnipresent building company Bouygues (who also owns the main private TV channel in France and whose president Martin Bouygues is well known to be Nicolas Sarkozy’s buddy !).
Francois Roche is therefore proposing an information blog that gathers many precious and interesting documents about the zoo and its history and also invite people to sign a petition by sending name, title and nationality at email@example.com
This invitation also insist on the fact that Bernard Tschumi, the architect of the project cannot be personally considered as responsible of such a problematic project.
picture extracted from the cover of the book concerned in this article. The project is the Hotel Sphinx in Times Square by Elia Zenghelis (1975).
Pier Vittorio Aureli just released a new book entitled The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture published at the MIT Press. Although the title seems to only states a “possibility”, this essay is a powerful manifesto for this notion of Absolute Architecture that necessities to be defined here:
In his very interesting introduction P.V. Aureli precises that he mean to use the notion of absolute here for architectural projects that conserve the full power of its essence even when separated from the urban system it has been inscribed in. He calls this urban model, archipelago and this way, attempt to advocate for an architecture that would propose such a scheme for the city.
Starting from the counter example of his thesis, he quotes Cerda’s plan for Barcelona, Hilberseimer’s Hochhaustadt and Archizoom’s No Stop City as visions of the city that use architecture as unifier and despise the very notion of monument. Monument here is not be understood as the new trend for cities to ask a starchitect to build another Bilbao effect museum but rather as an architecture that proposes its own ideology within its limits.
In order to make his point, P.V. Aureli describes in depth the architecture of Andrea Palladio, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Etienne-Louis Boullée & Oswald Mathias Ungers (associated to Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis) as many paradigms of such an absolute architecture.
Each of those chapters are actually very interesting interpretation of those authors’ architecture and there would be a lot to write about; nevertheless, I would like to insist here on the very notion of archipelago.
In this regard the last paragraph of introductory chapter 1 (Defining the Political and the Formal in Architecture) is brilliant in its summerization of the book’s thesis:
picture extracted from V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (Vertigo)
The subject of this article, science-fiction as an inventor of dilemmas is directly inspired by the reading of a very interesting book written by Peter Y. Paik, associate professor of comparative literature at the University of Wisconsin and published by the University of Minnesota Press. Its title, From Utopia to Apocalypse: Science-Fiction and the Politics of Catastrophe reveals a bit too much in my opinion the author’s tone all along the book. Indeed, P. Paik’s thesis can be summarized by a strong doubt for any sort of complete, total and absolute ideology of any kind. This assumed skepticism is for me a little disturbing when the object of the book is so brilliantly pointed out. Science Fiction proposes in fact dilemmas that should not be considered as less problematic and important than the ones that were introduced by the Greek Mythology. One could even argue that those dilemmas are even more crucial than the antic ones. In fact, when the Greeks were introducing problems concerning nation and family (Antigona, Orestes…), the dilemmas proposed by certain pieces of science fiction involve humanity in its essence. In fact, the XXth century would have invented the administrative murder and this way, managed to make responsibility unavoidable. If there is one thing to keep from the work of Hannah Arendt, it might be that Nazism has been only possible because of the participation -or the no refusal- of every single cog of the administration which was implementing it.
In order to introduce such problems, P.Paik has chosen five literary and cinematographic works that belong to the realm of what is commonly called science-fiction:
- Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons (1987)
- Save the Green Planet by Jang Joon-Hwan (2003) (which I did not see)
- Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind by Hayao Miyazaki (1982)
- The Matrix by Andi & Lana Wachowski (1999)
- V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (1982-1989)
While numerous blogs are competing to be the first ones to release the winning projects of every year’s Evolo skyscraper competition -when it’s been a while now that the most interesting projects are not winning anymore- it seems interesting to observe the “refused” to the prize list…
Totem War is one of them and it has been designed, or should I say narrated, by my good friends Martial Marquet (you can visit his new website), Nicolas Polaert and Louisa Gouesnard helped by Pierre Bregeon. This project introduces a narrative in a small town lost in Siberia’s Taiga, Sliznevo. This narrative involves a local tradition that can be compared to one that was developed in San Gimignano (Tuscany) during the Renaissance, the erection by each family of a tower competing with the others. The totems drawn by the French team are made out of wood and use all the same system of joinery (see the diagram below) but are all built according to a different scheme that allow such a competition.
Here is the text written by this project’s authors for more details:
Sliznevo is a small Russian village located in the middle of the giant Siberian Taiga forest. In this village The family who built the highest totem would be recognized as the
most prestigious and powerful family of Sliznevo. Thanks to their past and cultural heritage, what they build adopts a very genuine typology and because each clan is different, each totem represents it through it’s own architecture.
This village is a micro-utopia, a modern San Gimignano, which represents at a small scale what is happening since more than a hundred years in our cities : the quest of the highest tower. This is one of our society syndromes, and there is no need of a Babel ending to understand the vanity of this phenomenom. Whatever it is today, everyone wants to be part of it, with a full commitment. It has become a fashionable religion.
photo by NYC Comets
New York City’s monsters are more famous to be King Kong, Godzilla or the Cloverfield one; however the city is populated on a daily basis by those more little, yet still pretty frightening creatures that one can regularly run into. Those inflatable rats are one of the rare means, Unions have to manifest their disagreement with a company or their strike to the public. The right of protest is indeed much more limited in the United States than it is in Europe and those rats are actually pretty good to catch up with the workers’ struggle and it is easy to think the (relative though) embarrassment companies might have when a giant inflatable rat is waiting for them at the entrance of their building…
map extracted from the OCHA map: the green line is the 1949 armistice line separating Israel from the legal Palestinian territory, purple stains are settlements, orange stains are Palestinian villages, the thick red line is the separation barrier, circles are checkpoints, blue lines are Israeli roads and yellow lines are Palestinian roads. It goes without saying that every Israeli construction beyond the green line (here, pretty much the totality of this map) constitute a violation of the International Law.
In my research about the Israeli apartheid apparatuses against Palestinians of the West Bank, I encountered the Route 443 as a particularly symptomatic piece of infrastructure that illustrates well the territorial segregation implemented in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. This road is indeed a high speed axis for Israeli settlers and army to maximize their movement within the West Bank. This segregation allows for the Israelis, a total denial of the Palestinians’ existence. Route 443 is also symptomatic of such a denial by the presence of two high lateral walls (see photographs below), that hide from the cars the existing Palestinian villages around.
This highway crosses a corridor of Israeli illegal settlements in order to link them both with other settlements in East Jerusalem (East) and some other in the West part of the West Bank. Palestinians also have a road in order to reach this little piece of land imprisoned by the barrier. This road is narrow, framed by tall walls and barbel wires and goes under the settlements thus materializing the several layers of circulation the West Bank is characterized by. Of course, this road could not be easier to close by the I.D.F. that can then control the Palestinian circulation as they have learned to do in the frame of a strategical apartheid policy.
The following photographs and film have been taken by Israel based director of photography Amir Terkel who was kind enough to authorize me to use those documents.
Daniel Fernandez Pascual just posted a very interesting article on Deconcrete entitled The Purple Shall Govern. This short post introduces a form of anti-protest weapon developed and used by several police and armies in the world (South Africa, India, Israel, South Korea, Uganda, Bangladesh, Hungary among other) which consists in spraying paint on the demonstrators in order both to recognize them afterward and to socially materialize their dissidence. D. Fernandez Pascual talks about making the humiliation visible but I think that it goes even beyond that. In fact, when forms of racism based on natural signs of belonging to a gender or race, those police states wants to create additional -and it would be hard to not to think to the David star that Jews were forced to wear before and during WWII- exterior signs of adherence to a family of opinions. This then categorize the population into two distinct groups: the colored and the non-colored. Here I use the same terminology than the one used to talk about races (if such thing exists…)on purpose to illustrate the similitude of social exclusion involved.
Plan of the City is a collaborative work between video artist Joshua Frankel and music composer Judd Greenstein and chamber music band NOW Ensemble. This short movie is a simple and beautiful association of the vertical city (here New York but also later Shanghai) to a field of rockets ready to take off to Mars. This video includes this compelling metamorphosis of the Chrysler Building into a rocket in five steps and amusingly enough, the real skyscraper matches with the fourth step !
You can see more videos by Joshua on his website (including an homage to New York’s bicycle messengers !)
In times of a birth of a new transcendental moral, the one of sustainability which is, as it currently implements itself right now, only the new mutation of capitalism, it is important to re-interrogate the notion of nature as we know it. What we in fact are afraid of losing in this religious statement “Save the planet” is the idea of nature as it is fakely present in our imaginaries as David Lynch show us in his introduction scene of Blue Velvet when the micro-massacres appear in contrast of the idealized vision of human suburbian life.
The new Think Space competition that I have been recently writing about has been elaborated in this spirit.
In order to introduce nature in its real untamed essence, I wanted to put in parallel two statements on this topic:
- The first one is a a scene of Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams (see previous article) that shows Werner Herzog after years of obstacles to get through in order to make his magnificent movie Fitzcarraldo (see another article) in the middle of the Peruvian Jungle. The German director analyzes this “fornicating and asphyxiating” nature as “the harmony of overwhelming and collective murder“. Whoever see this excerpt can see the absolute mix of hatred and love that Herzog has for this nature. This scene can also be seen in another (more recent) documentary: My Best Friend Klaus Kinski which deals with another mix of love and hatred for Herzog !
- The second statement is the manifesto written by Bruce Sterling for Next Nature (thanks Frank !) which reaffirms that nature is certainly not a “nurturing entity that is harmonious, calm, peaceful, inherently rightful and all-around “good-for-you.”” but is the materialization of entropy which “requires not maintenance” to be operative :